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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

The Search for Eden Continues

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Right Idea; Wrong Planet

I am still waiting for God’s clear guidance on where I should move.

Yesterday, a complication was introduced. I started thinking about places farther north than Marion County, Florida.

If I want to live in Florida in an area which isn’t hideous scrub land, and where I’m less than 30 minutes from a grocery store, I am pretty much limited to 20 acres. I don’t feel comfortable going past the price level that tops out with that much acreage.

I would really like to be able to go for walks on my own land without having the neighbors wave at me from their front porch. I also want to be able to shoot high-powered rifles without hearing a lot of nonsense from neighbors. You can come close to these goals on less than 20 acres, but you can’t quite get there.

I started looking for stuff in the hilly areas of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. I like places in the mountains because the air is cooler and I wouldn’t be living on something resembling a pool table. At the same time, I would want a considerable amount of flat land, because you can’t do much with land that’s mostly vertical. Land is cheaper up there than it is in Florida.

One of the issues with moving to the area where Georgia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee come together is that some of the counties have become infested with Floridians. These people can’t drive; they go up and down hills at 20 mph with their brakes on, holding everyone up. They are rude. They are also likely to turn nice places into little copies of Doral and Hialeah (particularly unpleasant neighborhoods in Miami). I don’t want to move eight hundred miles to get away from Spanish and then hear it every time I try to buy something at the grocery store.

I don’t know how bad the Miamization of the Carolina mountains has become. Maybe it’s not too bad. I know I would not want to be anywhere near the North Carolina towns of Highlands and Cashiers. My parents had a place in Cashiers a long time ago, and the Florida people were already thick.

Here’s the other thing: given that I don’t want to be around Miamians, do I really want to be around Appalachian people?

I’m from Appalachia. My people come from Eastern Kentucky. I would never live in Eastern Kentucky, because of the racism and love of ignorance. I don’t want to hear the word “nigger” every time someone talks about a basketball game. When I’m around people who talk like that, even though they’re a lot like me (and may be related to me), I feel alone. I feel like a Jew passing for German among the Nazis, or a closeted Republican on a movie set in California. It makes me reluctant to get close to anyone new.

When we had our place in Cashiers, I learned that North Carolina hill people, though somewhat more responsible and capable than Eastern Kentucky people, were possibly even more bigoted. They really hated blacks. My dad made a friend of a deputy sheriff up there, and the things this man said about black people were horrendous. He was a public official, and I guess everyone approved of his mindset, because he didn’t get fired or sent off to sensitivity training (which didn’t exist yet).

I’m sure a lot of bad things happened to black people who were accosted by the cops in Jackson County. I remember the deputy saying something about running off a part-black prison road crew. I believe he expected trouble from the other locals.

I don’t want to live in a place where racial prejudice toward blacks is heavy. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to live in a primarily black area, because then I’d be the one suffering from racist persecution, and no one cares about victims of black racism. When it happens to you, you are on your own.

What if I had a choice between living in a place where blacks were treated badly or a place where whites were treated badly? Not a pleasant question. I would have to put my safety first.

Central and northern Florida are interesting, because they seem to be places where there is little racial friction. If you visit Ocala or Orlando, you’ll see a lot of black and white people sitting in restaurants together or walking together. That’s unusual in Miami. I’ve also seen a lot of mixed families in Orlando.

In Miami, you’ll see a lot of mixed people. You’ll see brown people who clearly have a lot of black blood. But you won’t see them sitting with black people. They sit with other brown people. It’s strange; many Cubans have black blood, and it shows, but they still have issues with black people.

Miami is full of racial tension, but people don’t talk about it, because most of it comes from Latins and blacks. If you’re white and you say anything about it, you’re automatically considered racist. A big percentage of Cubans do not like black people, and it’s very hard for blacks to get jobs in Latin-controlled Miami. Latins also treat each other better in commerce, and they are often hard on white people. Blacks have a lot of animosity toward whites and Latins. That seems to be true everywhere, and because no one talks about it, it won’t change any time soon.

There are some very good things about Appalachia. People there are polite. They are overwhelmingly Christian. They’re culturally similar to me in many respects. The land is beautiful. You can grow things there. Self-righteous, provincial bicoastal culture is less powerful there. You don’t have to worry about gay men having naked parades. Yet. The cost of living is low. People speak English. There isn’t much traffic. You can get away from humanity if you want to.

Another interesting thing about Appalachia is that construction is much better than it is here in Miami. No one here can do anything right. Walls are crooked, doors don’t fit, and so on. Miami contractors get very angry when you show them how bad their work is, and they blame you for being too picky. In Appalachia (and just about every other place outside South Florida), you can get a house that’s built correctly, and you can get repair people who aren’t completely inept and lazy.

I don’t think I’ll move to Appalachia. Marion County looks too good. The winters are a joke. The people are great. The county is dominated by conservatives. I think I’ll stick with the plan.

Maybe I shouldn’t air my inner thoughts as I deliberate, but I like shining sunlight on things. At least when I’m not the object of scrutiny!

I look forward to a better world, where I don’t have to weigh the impact of different types of foolishness and evil before making a move.

Why I Hate Miami

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Frisbee-Throwing Room

I am praying about getting an appraiser for the property I like in Marion County. I don’t want to make the wrong decision, and the best way to do that is to go with my own instincts instead of getting God’s guidance.

Today I looked at a phone photo I took last week. I decided to put it on the blog.

That’s a shot of the house, barn, and workshop, from the far end of the lot. Across the fence to the right is some kind of farm, and by “farm,” I mean a real farm, not a hobby farm like the one I’m standing on. The grey thing on the left is on someone else’s land. It’s too close! I feel oppressed.

I also made the photo my PC background. That may have been a mistake. It hurts to look at it.

The farm is a long rectangle. I would rather have a squarish lot, because it would feel more secluded, but a long lot is not bad when one side is bare farmland.

The area where I’m standing is wooded. Looks like the brush needs to be taken out. A shaded area will be nice because it will cut the sameness.

I’m afraid the place doesn’t have closets in the two smaller bedrooms. I can’t recall seeing any. But who builds a bedroom without a closet? Surely they exist. I emailed the realtor to find out.

Hope it works out. In any case, I’m going SOMEWHERE.

Throwing Shade

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

A Man has to Eat

The northern Florida dirt issue is getting more complicated.

First, I found out almost no land in Marion County is considered prime farmland. That hurt. Then I found out the property I liked was only about 30% “farmland of local importance.” Now I’m concerned about shade.

The three best acres of the property are next to a fence. Trees grow along the fence. The trees give shade. The fence runs north to south. I’m on the west side of the fence. That means the trees will kill at least some of the sun until maybe noon. They’re tall trees, so I suppose some sun will slip in under them, but it’s not ideal.

I looked at a list of vegetables that don’t need full sun, and it made me feel better. The list goes like this:

1. Everything except corn and tomatoes.

I guess that’s not really right, but a whole lot of things are on the list. Taters. Beans. Peas. Carrots. Anything related to cabbage, which means just about every type of greens.

Peppers need sun. I guess I could put a raised box with fake dirt in a sunny area.

I don’t know how good farmland has to be, in order to work. I grew a fine crop of beans in my sand yard in Miami. I had one 30-foot row, and I did pretty well until fungus killed everything.

Do I really need raised beds? Why not get a backhoe and dig a square pit about 20 feet on a side and a foot deep? I could fill it with composted horse manure, better dirt, pixie dust, and whatever else it takes to grow food. I guess there must be a reason why this is a stupid idea, because it seems so obvious and no one does it. Or maybe they do. Do they?

Sweet corn would appear to be an important thing to learn to grow. When the nutty left starts driving Christians out of grocery stores, you won’t be able to get by with just cabbage and tomatoes. I wonder if there’s a way to force sandy ground to produce corn.

Once you learn to grow stuff, you have to figure out how to preserve it. Root crops keep a long time. I can dry beans and turn them into shucky beans. Other stuff would have to be canned. That’s a drag. But I already have the equipment.

Fruit trees. Is there a fruit tree that will grow in sandy soil? I would love to have peaches.

The owners of the place I like killed all the trees on about seven acres of it. I can’t understand that. I guess they wanted the horses to be happy. What about the people? People like trees. How can you have a huge lot with no fruit trees? That’s insane.

I’ll get the answers. One way or another it will work.

My New Field of Study: Dirt

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Like This Wasn’t Complicated Enough

The home-shopping experience is getting more complicated, which should not be a surprise. I know very little about buying houses (even though I should), I know even less about buying farms, and I overthink everything I buy. When I buy a pair of pliers on the web, I have to look at a hundred websites to make sure they’re the best pliers on earth. Imagine how bad it is trying to buy a house.

I did not know soil varies greatly over small distances. I figured you would have one kind of soil in one part of a county and maybe another kind in another part. I didn’t think different kinds of soil would be swirled around and mixed so every single farm in a county would have to be examined separately.

I found out about soil variations today. There’s a government website called Web Soil Survey, and you can use it to find out what kind of soil you have under you. You can look at very small areas, like 15 acres.

I found a nice farm with a green house. I checked the soil. Only about 30% of it is nice enough for the government to consider it farmland. The other part…who knows? The government divides things into “prime farmland,” “locally important farmland,” and…crap, I guess.

If I understand the soil report, I can grow 20000 pounds of tomatoes per acre per year, but it looks like I can only plant an acre or two. Hmm…I probably won’t need more than 3000 pounds for personal use, so maybe that’s okay.

I can grow 60 bushels of corn per acre per year. Whoopee.

I can’t grow watermelons very well, according to the government’s pessimistic report. Suddenly I really want those watermelons.

How do I figure out how the land itself affects the value of the property? I guess this is where appraisers come in.

I’m not interested in becoming a farmer, but what if that changes? What if I find out there is huge money in growing exotic artichokes or something? What if our economy tanks? What about the inevitable day when leftists exclude Christians from buying and selling?

I don’t know if I can accomplish anything with two or three acres of tillable land.

Can I grow anything on the remainder of the property? Search me. It’s something called “Arredondo sand.” Sounds like a paint color. What if I make the property a free dumping ground for horse manure for a year? Will that help?

The property next door is sitting on a pile of Kendrick loamy sand, which extends slightly into the lot I’m looking at. This extension is the fertile part of the lot. I can’t believe that guy got 100% Kendrick loamy sand! Lucky so-and-so.

For fun, I looked up the 300-acre farm my grandfather owned in Kentucky. Virtually all of it is prime farmland, which means plants grow like crazy. I didn’t appreciate it when I was a kid.

Sooner or later I’ll get the answer. It’s too complicated for me, but surely prayer will get the job done.

Bugging Out

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Make Sure you Pack the Skillets and the AK-47

It has been a hard week. I spent two days in Ocala, looking at houses with my dad and my old friend Mike.

I would have blogged the trip from Ocala, but trip blogging is just an oblique way of begging thieves to rob your empty house, so I kept quiet.

For several weeks, I’ve been digging up properties online and talking to a realtor. I ran into some obstacles. First of all, Florida contains a whole lot of extremely ugly houses. I’m not picky, but there is such a thing as a house too ugly to live in. I found a number of places I could not stomach. Very sad, because sometimes great properties have bad houses.

I had another problem: a surprising number of people put two-bedroom houses or trailers on nice farms. I can’t figure that out. I suppose some of the smaller homes used to be caretaker shacks on larger farms, and once the farms were cut up, the main houses went with other parcels.

Third thing: some of these places were just too remote. I’m all for breathing room, but half an hour is too long for a drive to the nearest drugstore. Also, my dad will be with me, and I don’t think he would be thrilled about living in a place where there are only three or four decent restaurants within a half-hour’s drive. And if he needs medical care, it would be best to be fairly close in.

One place had a shop building that almost made me faint. It was maybe sixty feet long and thirty feet wide. I was told it was an RV barn. Think what I could do with that.

I found a couple of places that stood out. One is a mint-green farmhouse a rich couple used as a vacation home. They fixed it up perfectly, and then they rarely used it. It has a small barn, a beautiful shop with a concrete slab, and the nicest house I have ever been in. They even bought a new tractor and a small four-wheel drive utility vehicle. The machinery still has tags on it. It has never been used.

The mint color is odd, but I can fix that myself for a few hundred bucks.

I’ve never seen construction to equal that house. Everything fits perfectly. The woodwork is finished to perfection. The garage has a brand-new epoxy floor. It’s stunning. It would be impossible to build such a house in Miami, because no one here could do it even if they wanted to. People here have no skill.

I don’t know how they did it.

You could put a dirt berm up behind this place and shoot rifles all day. How sweet would that be?

Unfortunately, it’s pretty far out, and I don’t think the price is realistic. The owners got hammered, paying $100,000 more than what it’s probably worth now.

It’s not in the high-rent area of the county, but they’re asking a high price, and I doubt it will appreciate quickly.

The other place I like is a frame house on 16 acres of woods. I don’t want that many trees, but you can have your land timbered selectively, and because the wood is useful, you make money on the process. I could mark the trees I want gone and open it up without destroying the privacy.

The house has no outbuildings (bad), but it does have a nice 3-car garage with a gun room built into the side of it. The gun room has a heavy steel door. A smart person could open it up in a few minutes with an angle grinder, but most thieves are stupid and in a hurry.

Can’t hurt.

We would have to add a shop building. That would take time. I suppose my stuff would fit in the garage until then.

This house is closer in. No issues with distance.

I think the second house is best, but man, that first house is something. It’s magnificent. It’s like someone knew I was coming and built it for me. “Here’s your unused shop, complete with electricity and concrete slab. Here is your new tractor. Here is your huge garage. Here is your steel gate. Here is your emergency generator. Did we forget anything?”

It was wonderful to not be in Miami. The people in Marion County were great. Everyone was polite, and I only heard one conversation in Spanish.

Mike used to live in Ocala. His parents had a thoroughbred farm there, and after that, he and his wife lived near the city. He was a great resource. He knew where the best soil was. He knew what different areas of the county were like. On top of that, he’s an incredile schmooze, so he got people to open up and tell us about the properties we looked at. One lady operated a soap company out of her home. She made him take free soap and tried to get a date. She said he was cute.

Not to be outdone, I also attracted attention from females. While we were walking around the soap lady’s farm, a white horse noticed me and trotted over to the fence like she couldn’t believe I had finally arrived. She was thrilled to see me. She stuck her head over the fence and tried to get me to come over. When I walked around a barn and reappeared on the other side, she saw me, and she ran over to flirt some more.

I tried to take a dignified photo of her from the side, but she lunged at me, and this is what I got:

Mike was not happy. He has been around horses for most of his life, and she didn’t give him the time of day.

I have to decide what to do. Try to buy one of these places, or wait for something new?

There are worse problems to have. I could be upside-down on a Miami mortgage, forced to rot here until I pay it off.

Drowning in Choices

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

As Problems Go, This is a Nice One

I’m writing because some websites are failing to load for me. I figure they’ll probably kick in just as I start getting interested in this blog post.

I’m trying to look at Marion County properties a realtor emailed me. Before I contacted a realtor, I went to Zillow and other sites and found a few properties worth saving. Now I have a bunch of new ones to look at. You would think an Internet search would turn up everything worth looking at, but the realtor found a lot of fantastic stuff that didn’t appear on Zillow.

It looks like the hard part will be narrowing the choices down. I’m overwhelmed. These places are so beautiful, I can’t believe I could end up living in one of them.

For some reason, the prices of properties don’t seem strongly related to the acreage. A place with 10 acres will not necessarily cost much less than one with 31 acres. Obviously, this means I’m excited about the big places. With 10 acres, shooting in my yard could conceivably annoy neighbors. If I get 31, as far as I’m concerned, they can put their complaints in a sock, because I will be way too far away for anyone to have a legitimate gripe.

Why do people live in Dade County (now named Miami-Dade because Spanish-speaking foreigners can’t figure out that “Dade” means “Miami”)? The lots are small. The traffic is starting to rival Hong Kong’s. The people are very, very rude. You have to repeat yourself over and over when you buy things, because half of the population can’t understand English. If everyone here were getting rich, I would understand the draw, but Miami is a poor city. I guess the allure is the knowledge that you can move here, refuse to learn English, and do okay.

There are a lot of variables to look at when I go through these properties. I want reasonably good soil so I can grow food when America finally collapses, so I am looking at the photos and trying to weed out the places that are all pine and no hardwood. I don’t want too much horse stuff. Supposedly, keeping one small barn on a property will bring some sort of tax advantage, but some of these places have tracks and 5000 square feet of stalls.

The north part of the county might be better for my dad, since he will need to be reasonably near good medical care (i.e. Gainesville).

The thought of having a workshop I can roller skate in is intoxicating. I watch other people’s Youtube videos, and some of their shops are nearly empty. It makes me want to jump through the screen and lie down on the cool, satisfying concrete. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have that kind of space. Some of the places in Marion County appear to have shops as large as 2000 square feet. I would never, ever leave. I would move the bed into the shop.

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what I need a house for. Oh, yeah. Now I remember. My dad will want a place to sleep.

You know what’s really exciting? We could conceivably have a tractor. A man with a tractor is a man to be reckoned with. In addition to chores like bush-hogging (boring!), you can use a tractor to move machinery, do light earth-moving jobs, and generally wreak havoc. I don’t know if I would actually use one. I might just go out into the shop and hold it, like a Hillary voter holding a rented puppy.

I always say I have no ambition. Now that has changed. My ambition is to move to a rental property, screw around with my tools, have all sorts of prayer meetings, get old, and die. Judging from what I’ve learned so far, when I get up there, I may have a lot of competitors in these pursuits.

This morning I read something from 2 Peter:

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.

Reading that made me very emotional. To think that God might get me out of here and put me among better people…that is true generosity.

Lot lived in Sodom, and God called him righteous. If you read about Lot, though, you will see that he wasn’t what we would call a saint. He wasn’t on the same level as Abraham. Lot’s deliverance shows that God will help people who fail a lot. That tells me he is willing to help me.

I can’t go back and rejoin the crazy, ungodly world. Life has gotten truly insane. If you’re any kind of a Christian, you now have a target on your back. People will do their best to take away your livelihood and blackball you so you can’t get hired or own a business anywhere. You can’t even have a bakery, because vicious people who don’t really want your cakes will come to you and order wedding spreads just to get you put out of business.

Our culture has gone nuts. This week a female performer named Beyonce (you probably know who she is) did a dance number for the Grammys in which she dressed up as a voodoo “goddess,” put a halo on her head, and had other dancers worship her. She threw in elements of the Hindu “god” Shiva. People lapped it up. If you criticize her on Facebook, her warped fans (the “Beehive”) will come after you and heap abuse on you.

A few years back, Madonna did a similar act in which dancers dressed as demons worshiped her.

Americans see nothing wrong with things like this now. Satan is officially mainstream. People think it’s cute. They don’t realize these “gods” represent real spirits that hate Yahweh.

We’re so filthy now, and so proud, most of us are beyond God’s reach. Persecution will now increase, and it won’t be that long before the state treats us the way Nazi Germany treated Jews. If you think it can’t happen here, wake up. The Germans and Austrians were more civilized and orderly than we are now, and they built the death camp ovens.

I can’t go back. I can’t give up what I have. I can never rejoin the devil’s system, so I will always be faced with bitter, cruel opposition. Unless God wants me to live in complete subjugation and misery, he will have to provide a way out, and I think that’s what he’s doing.

The sites loaded, and I went over the properties and made notes.

You can get more property for your money when you move away from Ocala and Gainesville, but then you have to think about the aggravation of driving half an hour to get to Lowe’s or the nearest hospital. Also, my dad likes to have lunch in restaurants. I just looked at a place called Williston, and it appears that the choices are basically fast food, two BBQ joints that get dubious reviews, and diners.

On the whole, a restaurant shortage in a wonderful place is a much better problem to have than being stuck in a rude, crowded city and having restaurants that are sort of okay.

I really want to go lie down on a concrete shop floor. Like, now.

If I ever manage to choose a place, you will read about it here.

Pipe Dreams

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

My Joint Ventures are Faring Poorly

Unbelievably, I had to re-re-redo the PVC pipes on my pool pump. I’m starting to think PVC is cursed.

I fixed it last month, and then I waited for the pump shed to dry out. I figured I could continue cleaning and improving once the water was gone. I went out there a couple of days ago to check on things, and the floor was still wet.

Worse, the accumulation of dirt and leaves covering the floor was still wet.

Here in South Florida, all pool guys are English-deaf. You can’t tell them anything. And if you do, it doesn’t matter, because they won’t do it, or they will be replaced in three weeks by new people who didn’t get el memo. I figured the persistent water problem was caused by the pool guy’s continuing failure to tighten the pump lid down, and by my continuing failure to check it whenever he left the property.

Yesterday I took a closer look, and water was dripping from my new pipe system. Incredible.

The crud on the floor was there because all landscape guys in this area are English-deaf. They are also unable to use rakes. They use leaf blowers for everything. You can’t tell them not to use leaf blowers, and the blowers blow dirt and leaves into every opening available. Over the years, it adds up.

I got a shovel, a hoe, and a shop-vac, and I removed a tremendous amount of dirt and plant matter. I actually saw the concrete floor; it’s not just a myth. It’s really there.

Before I got into this mess, I hated slip joints. A slip joint is a place where a pipe slides into a fitting. It has no threads. You have to cement it together, and after that, you can’t take it apart. I hated them because I thought they were a copout, and because they turn repairable systems into replaceable systems. If you have one bad fitting in a big conglomeration of parts that are cemented together, there is a good chance you’ll have to throw everything out and start over. I liked threaded joints, which can be taken apart.

I now think slip joints rock, and I hate threaded joints.

When I examined my pipes, I found that the cemented joints were fine, and at least two threaded joints were leaking, giving me a threaded-joint failure rate of about 67%.

I had to get out the sawzall (which I don’t capitalize because it’s not a Milwaukee) and cut the pipes off the pump.

I got on the web and looked around, trying to find out what I should do. Are threaded joints just plain bad? Were my joints too tight? Were they too loose? Should I have used tape instead of dope?

Here is what I found out: dope is better than tape (yay), and doped joints have to be tightened as hard as humanly possible.

My leaking joints were very tight, but they leaked anyway. I didn’t tighten them as much as I could have, because I was afraid the fittings would split. Now my feeling is, tighten away, and if the fittings split, get new fittings. Buy extra fittings before you build your joints just in case.

This time, I took the offending structure out of the pump shed and put it in my bench vise. I tightened the joints way, way, way down, and I reinstalled everything. I had to replace one threaded joint, so I used a 24″ pipe wrench to tighten it. I used a ton of dope. I was not going to tolerate a too-dry fit that prevented the male end from bottoming, and I was not going to put up with water leaks caused by gaps in the dope.

Is this the correct way to do it? I do not know. I know that the common sense way didn’t work, so now I’m using the brute-force moron approach, and so far, I have no leaks.

I used a huge amount of cement on the new slip joints. Cement melts PVC, so presumably, if you use a lot, you end up with lots of fused plastic to prevent leaks. That is my hope.

I guarantee you, there is no one within 30 miles who would have come here and done this job correctly in exchange for money. This county is the doofus capital of the universe. Even though I’ve done it wrong twice, I still feel like I’m way ahead of the game. I only spent like a hundred bucks, and I didn’t have to yell at anyone or threaten to sue.

It’s a shame I can’t fix roofs. Don’t even get me started on that nightmare.

Here is my advice: if you have to do PVC plumbing, only use threaded fittings when you have a compelling reason. Tighten the crap out of everything, use dope instead of tape, and use lots of cement on slip joints. Buy a sawzall, too. It will cut any PVC joint ever made in under ten seconds.

Make sure you tighten your threaded joints as early as possible in the process to get them into their final form. See to it that you leave slip joints for last, because they can be wiggled and adjusted before you add the glue, helping you to get things aligned. If you move a threaded joint, you risk creating a leak.

Now watch the pipes start leaking, proving everything I just wrote is wrong.

I hate swimming pools. Biggest con since time shares.

Spreadsheets are not Where I Excel

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Bring in the Dart-Throwing Chimp

What joy I’m having today. I wish everyone reading this could share it with me. I mean it. All four of you.

Maybe it’s more than four. I finally decided to find out what Feedly is, and it looks like I have 39 subscribers. Hey, it’s your time. If you really think this is a good way to spend it, I guess I don’t mind enabling you.

I’ve spent a good part of the day learning to use a spreadsheet program. I mainly use my garage computer these days, and because I’m too cheap to pay for Microsoft Office, I put Open Office on it, and it includes a spreadsheet. That’s what I used.

I was comparing homeowner’s insurance quotes. Yes, you may shoot me if you are in the area.

If insurance brokers actually wanted you to understand what you’re buying, they would use a standard quote form. I can state with confidence, but without research, that by 2016, this thought has occurred to someone in the industry. Instead, everyone makes up a form, and comparing them is nearly (and intentionally) impossible.

Here is my primitive understanding of spreadsheets. They allow you to make huge tables of things you want to compare or analyze, and you can do bulk math on the stuff in the boxes. I think that’s correct. I haven’t done any of the bulk math stuff.

I made three lists for three quotes, and I tried to line up corresponding costs so I could compare them. After I was done, I found out I actually had two quotes that looked like three. Or something. I still haven’t figured it out.

I’m only a lawyer. I shouldn’t be expected to understand insurance quotes directed at the ignorant masses.

The quote I like is the one that appears to try least hard to hide things from me.

The main thing I’ve learned is that hurricane windows are probably a good idea. I guess that was helpful. Hurricane windows cut insurance costs by almost two thirds.

I found some people to give me window quotes. I wonder if I’ll be able to understand them.

I also found tech specs for the sprinkler pump I ordered, so I should be able to get the crap I need to install it and turn it into a plug-and-play job by the time the pump arrives.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I’m a riot.

No, what will actually happen is that I will scout out the correct parts and prepare them as well as possible, and then a bunch of unforeseeable stuff will happen, and I’ll end up in the pump shed, covered with filth, using the wrong tools to do a bad job fixing problems I don’t really understand.

This is not my first rodeo.

I can predict in advance that I will do a much better job of installing the pump than anyone I could hire. That’s a certainty. I guess the pros keep getting their parole revoked before they can get really good.

I’ve never been in a penitentiary (let’s hope my luck holds), but they must have really wonderful roofs, sprinklers, and landscaping. Practically everyone in there who isn’t a lawyer is in one of those fields.

I don’t know how Feedly works, because I do not read blogs. My fear (not a big one) is that subscribers get the first version of anything I write. If so, I feel for them, because I never proofread until I’ve published the first version. I feel especially bad for anyone who comes and posts an angry comment based on a typo or something I deleted during proofreading. Like I’ll type something like, “I like women who have a lot of class” and forget to type the “cl.”

I have been somewhat productive today, and I have suffered tremendously, so I feel like I can allow myself to get back to The Iliad and knock off a few dozen pages. Yesterday I did something like 130 pages. This is like reading 3000 pages of a normal book while someone sprays soapy water in your eyes. I was determined to get it behind me, so I made the sacrifice.

Just a normal sacrifice. Not a hecatomb, complete with bulls and boars and bird entrails.

It looks like Hektor is not long for this world. When I exited Scrib’d, he was talking smack to Achilleus.

Greek heroes are a great deal like WWE stars. They can’t just kill you. They have to stand in front of a crowd and give a juvenile speech first. It’s sad, really. Both guys will talk about how bad they are and how they’re going to send the other guy to hell in several shipments blah blah blah, and then one sentence later Homer is telling you how the head of one’s spear is going in the other’s ear and out through his tongue, separating his teeth from his jaws and causing his eyeballs to pop out and roll in the dust.

I guess the Greeks never heard the expression, “I ain’t going out like that.” They DO go out like that. Over and over.

After a Greek hero kills you, he strips you naked and takes your armor (lot of good it did you), and then he either leaves you there for the dogs to eat, or he cuts up your dead body for fun. And then leaves you there for the dogs to eat.

So your Greek buddies are still running around having a gay old time, jabbing each other with lances, and there you are, naked, several yards from your eyeballs. And the guy who did it is probably giving another speech and laughing his butt off.

I fail to see the appeal.

Dogs, worms, and crows seem to do well in these stories.

I may actually finish this book today. I certainly hope so.

Not Pumped

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Mexican Electrics, Unbelievably, Fail the Endurance Test

The sprinkler pump adventure is not over yet.

My old pump is supposed to have 1.5″ plumbing, minimum, and the motor should be 1.5 HP. When I cut the old PVC off, I found that the pipe had narrowed to 1.25″ or less, and it was globbed up with plastic. The walls weren’t smooth and straight. It was like the inside of a cave. The pump (a Mexican replacement for the original) was 2 HP, so I was paying for electricity I didn’t need.

For some reason, I thought irrigation pumps were expensive. I just assumed. The one I had was heavy cast iron, and it was made in America, so I figured it cost a ton. When I saw a replacement motor for $165, I thought it was a deal, so I bought it.

Today I got the motor out of the shed, which was not fun at all, and I carried it to my bench. That’s about fifty yards, and it probably weighs 75 awkward pounds. I took the motor apart in pieces and then found I was going to have a hard time getting the shaft out of the impeller. The shaft should have been stainless, but it was very rusty, and there was no way to access the impeller without taking the pump apart. The pump was pretty much a unit, with the halves welded together by rust caused by the installer’s decision to leave the iron base sitting just off the ground surrounded by wet leaves.

I decided to derust the pump. I put it in a shop vac tub with water and soda, and I connected a battery charger.

After all this work, I went on the web and started researching pumps, and I found out a new one is only $300. That’s not chicken feed, but I was thinking $600 or something, based on what the sprinkler guys were saying. They are just as hopeless as the pump.

Now I have a new pump on the way, and I’m trying to cancel the new motor. I’m hoping they didn’t ship it yet. I ordered it late on a Friday. I don’t care. They are welcome to the return shipping fee.

After all this misery, I have learned some important things. I already mentioned the bad installation and the screwed-up pipes. I also learned that the motor I just trashed wasn’t grounded. Somebody could have been killed working on it. The person who installed it deliberately left it that way. I believe that would be the same company that just came out here and failed in almost every regard. Now I know not to call them again.

I’m going to install the new pump myself because NO ONE IN SOUTH FLORIDA CAN BE TRUSTED TO CONNECT THREE WIRES AND DO ONE FOOT OF PLUMBING. I would love to pay someone, but apparently that would be like going to the vet for a vasectomy.

Once it’s in, I’ll find a reputable sprinkler company on Angie’s List and kiss the old outfit goodbye forever.

I don’t know what to use for a pump base. Wood will rot. Even pressure-treated wood rots eventually. I should go get some aluminum channel. It will outlast the sun. It will get pretty crusty in the damp shed, but it won’t disappear like wood, and it won’t petrify with thick rust.

Tradesmen are getting really stupid. At least it seems that way. I know virtually nothing about irrigation or electrical work, but I am miles ahead of the professionals who have worked here.

Black Socks, Bermuda Shorts, and a Warm Ma Deuce

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The Dream is Within Reach

I had the funniest experience yesterday.

I was watching American Pickers, the show about the guys who drive around buying old stuff other people have hoarded. They resell it, usually at about a 100% markup. They burrow through barns and attics, and they meet all sorts of interesting people. Very often, they end up on big properties with one or more outbuildings, and the buildings are full of junk.

Yesterday, they took a random right turn and ended up on a dirt road which had not been selected in advance (supposedly). They went past a “KEEP OUT” sign and stopped at a building resembling a garage. They hollered and went in, and they found two weird old guys playing homemade musical instruments. They were surrounded by tools and knickknacks.

I heard myself think, “THIS IS HOW I WANT TO LIVE.”

Not so much the sitting around with another old guy, playing music on an instrument made from a plunger handle and a Chock Full of Nuts can. Not that part. The part I liked was being a good distance off the road, on a big property, with no one aggravating me. In a building with concrete walls. Surrounded by cool stuff.

They visited another guy later. He was some sort of engineer, I think. I don’t remember. Naval something or other. He had a lathe, a huge bending brake, lots of grinders, a giant vault, and God knows what else. There were old tin toys there. He had a wooden wind-tunnel model of a plane; his uncle had built it for some outfit that was trying to make supersonic aircraft.

I realized one of the major differences between my garage and his shop was character. He was doing more to keep his junk ordered. I tend to avoid the garage in the summer, because the heat is bad, and a couple of pieces of garage door insulation fell off a while back, which made things worse. The garage was a big mess.

Day before yesterday I went out and fixed the insulation and straightened up a little. After I watched the pickers show, I continued. I went back to work on my garlic press project. You can’t really clean up a shop if there are old projects lying around.

In cross-section, from the side, the press is an H. It’s a stainless tube blocked by a plate about halfway down. The plate will have holes in it, and there will be a plunger which mashes garlic through the holes. Think of a hypodermic syringe with a sieve instead of a needle at the end. Sort of like that.

I had a cylinder made, and I had bored out one end of it. I needed to bore the other end, leaving a 0.10″-thick plate in the tube, for the holes to go through. I considered doing this on the lathe, but the steel I’m using throws ungodly long chips, so I stuck it on the mill and used a 1/2″ end mill.

08 28 13 garlic press body on rotary table

It took forever, dropping down 0.025″ at a time and going through 360° of rotation, but I got it done. Now I have to radius the sharp edges and drill the holes. The plunger is already done. It fits so well, when you drop it in the press, it sinks in very slowly, because it’s hard for the air under it to escape.

That’s cool. I like to drop the plunger over and over and watch it sink.

It’s looking more and more like I’m getting out of here. God be praised. I would say that even if I were an atheist. I do NOT NOT NOT like Miami. I want to be able to go outside and walk a hundred yards before hitting a property line. I want to hear English once in a while. I want to be able to wear long pants occasionally. I want to be able to drive ten miles in less than twenty minutes.

My dad has a 46-foot boat which has been a problem. He uses it as a place to hide out, which is fine, but it’s his main motivation for staying in Miami. I can’t let his hobby ruin my life. I want him to enjoy himself, but this is too much to ask. He doesn’t want me to move 700 miles away, and I understand that, because of his age. I’m against it, too. But if I have to leave without him, I will do it, because this place is not right for me.

Today he started talking about selling the boat. Thank you, Lord. He could keep it in Pensacola (currently my preferred destination), and maybe that’s the better option, but I’m glad to see him consider unloading it. It shows God is breaking things loose.

I am not excited about practicing law, but it’s a pleasant way to earn money, and if I can do it up there and generate income without becoming a cubicle slave, you better believe I’ll do it and be grateful.

Some people need room. I guess I’m one of them. I have several worthwhile hobbies you can’t indulge in a small suburban house. I want to be able to shoot on my own land. I need a shop with an area of at least 800 square feet. I need a normal-sized kitchen. Until I get these things, I’m going to feel like I’m wearing a burlap straitjacket.

I feel bad for my dad. Rejecting God preserves your pride, but it costs you peace and satisfaction. God is ordering my path, and he would gladly order my dad’s path, too, if he would give in.

I’ve located some tempting properties in the 20-acre range. That will suffice. I’d rather have a hundred, but from this chair, I can see three houses without standing up, so 20 will seem like heaven itself.

Prayer in tongues lines things up. It makes things happen. People reject this advice. I can’t help that. I put it out there. Benefit from it or don’t. At least I can say I told you.

Hopefully by this time next year, I’ll have a shop and some tomato plants. That would sure be nice.

Welcome to Zoar Farms

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Where the Cows Lick Pillars of Salt

Sorry I did not come by to weep with everyone on Tuesday night. On Monday, I had a 2-phone-battery conversation with somone who thinks going into drug rehab is somehow a service that benefits ME, and I decided to get up the next day and get out of Miami.

Ocala. That’s what it’s all about.

To recap, I went to Winter Haven to help launch a new church, and I felt like a runaway slave. Afterward, I started thinking about moving north. Then my buddy Mike started talking about Ocala. Either that, or I came up with the idea myself. Can’t remember. I started looking at Ocala real estate on the computer, with the intensity of an Obama campaign staffer researching Romney’s overdue library books. I found out that you can get a magnificent farm up there for the cost of a little-bitty house in Coral Gables. I’ve been making lists and looking at Google Earth a lot.

Originally, I thought I would go alone, because I didn’t think my father would ever leave this place. Then he started coming around. That was great, because I refuse to have a mortgage, and if we both go, we can have a much nicer property.

I checked out fourteen places, from two acres to forty, if I recall correctly. If I had to describe this area, I’d say it looks a great deal like the area outside Lexington, Kentucky, only without the backwardness and bigotry. I hope. Mike says everyone got along great at the racially mixed school he went to in Ocala.

I had read that the dirt up there was too sandy for growing things, but that’s not true. I saw all sorts of hay, and people were growing stuff in their yards. It may not be the finest dirt on earth, but clearly, it works. We don’t really have dirt in Miami. A lot of this area has a few inches of white sand over oolite (coral rock), and when they build houses, sometimes they add a little muck from the Everglades, so you end up with grey sand. To plant a tree in my yard, you have to use a mattock and cut a hole in the rock. I’ve pretty much had it with our dirt.

I was able to move between properties ten miles apart in about as many minutes. As a victim of Miami, I can’t even express my joy. The traffic here is nearly unbearable, and the worst part about it is that when you finally get out of the car, you’re still in Miami.

There are actual hills up there. At one point, while driving, I felt pressure in my ears. I didn’t think that was possible in Florida.

I also enjoyed hearing English. Diversity is swell, but I get very, very, very tired of playing charades to make myself understood in the United States of America, by individuals who have been here since Carter.

People get mad at me because I can’t understand their bad English. One of the biggest night school subjects here is ESOL, or English for Speakers of Other Languages. That’s great, but they haven’t gotten around to adding UESOL, or Understanding English for Speakers of Other Languages. Funny thing, I find it easier to talk to relatively new Haitians than Cubans who have been here 20 years. The Haitians learn English very quickly, and when their English isn’t good (very rare), I can talk to them in French.

Anyway, I do look forward to saying everything ONCE.

The Romney signs…they were everywhere. I saw a few Obamas, but not enough to matter. Mike says a politician who runs as a Democrat in Marion County has no shot. I love that.

I would say the Ocala area looks, well, not hectic. I suppose it could get dull. But I don’t do much anyway, in terms of going out on the town. I don’t like movies because my feet stick to the floor and people yap in Spanish. I don’t like restaurants because I cook better than they do. Clubs…don’t even joke. I can generally be found at home, at church, or running errands. My assumption is that if I join a good church up there, I’ll have a social circle within two to three months, and after that, life will be much as it is here, only without the unpleasant sensation of being in Miami.

I saw a lot of wonderful things. Barbecue restaurants, plural. All sorts of businesses related to farming. They would be helpful to a tool-oriented person hoping to get into things like canning food and maintaining a workshop. There’s a Krystal restaurant in town. They don’t have a Costco, and that will smart, but you can’t have everything. There’s a Gordon Food Service 60 miles away. I wanted to be remote, so I shouldn’t complain.

It may be hard to find a place that doesn’t have horse paraphernalia. I am not going to have much use for a barn. I know people will say I can put a workshop in it, but horse barns are cut up into little stalls. I think it would be pretty hard to convert one. Mike says we can rent stalls to people. Basically, they would be paying to give me handy manure.

I don’t know much about maintaining rural property, even though I’ve owned a ton of it in common with family. As far as I know, you don’t have to do much with barns and land. We did virtually nothing to the farms we sold, and they held their value. I don’t want to end up bush-hogging thirty or forty acres once a month, or mowing a giant yard.

I’m going to try to put together a plan and get this done. Things are probably going to get very bad now that we have chosen Obama a second time, and if a depression hits the cities, the entitlement flash mobs will be invading houses en masse, raping, killing, and stealing. Or “stealing BACK,” as they would say. Places like Ocala will be very dangerous for that crowd. Up there, a guy with scoped rifles (and friends with scoped rifles) might have a real advantage over liberal dentists and accountants in Coral Gables. I guess it sounds like I’m planning to move so I can shoot a bunch of people. No, but I don’t want to be an easy target when the anti-Christian, anti-conservative Kristallnacht comes.

I guess I should write about the election.

Many conservatives are questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s victory. Let me give you a bitter pill. It’s completely legitimate. Unless they turn up an extremely unlikely election-rigging scam which spans many states, no reasonable person will ever be able to deny that we chose this man. We know what he is, and we want it.

People are saying he won because the media didn’t go after him. I’m sure that helped him, but his screwups have been covered fairly well. Everyone who owns a PC or TV should be aware of his failures and negative traits. People claim he won because the public has drifted left. I very much doubt it. I don’t think the public is smart enough to know what left is.

Obama won because a big percentage of the electorate is ignorant and/or not very bright. Grab a typical college graduate and ask him if he has any idea why entitlements lead to unemployment and low productivity, and chances are, he won’t have a clue. The people who decided the election were not favoring leftism. They went for the guy they liked best. They saw the debates, and they thought about things like hair and suits, and at the end, they decided Obama made them feel better.

People who are obsessed with politics think everyone worries about things like the proper level of taxation and the size of our military. In reality, the average voter votes based on instinct, which is something that exists to help creatures who lack the ability or inclination to reason.

Ronald Reagan ran against Carter. He projected confidence and charm, so he won twice. Bush I ran against Dukakis, who looked short, dumpy, and timid, so he won once. Clinton charmed female voters, so he beat Bush I. Bush II seemed less crazy than Gore and less snotty than Kerry, so he got eight years.

I know it’s not really that simple. Policies matter a little. But it’s very obvious that we are as willing to vote for extreme leftists as right-of-center conservatives, so I don’t believe substance means much.

Anyway, Obama is the President, and he is the true choice of the people, so get over it.

As to why Obama won people’s hearts, I believe the answer is supernatural. We have killed tens of millions of unborn babies (and quite a few that were born), we have turned against Israel, a huge percentage of us support perversion, we think fornication is a God-given right, and we are becoming cruel and extremely proud. We pray less than ever, and church attendance is dropping. We are becoming God’s enemies. In my opinion, our reward is national decline. God has blinded us to Obama’s revolting shortcomings, so we did something no reasonable nation would do. We chose Obama not once, but twice.

I was highly disturbed when I saw the election results. I was in a hotel room, trying to sleep, and I stupidly forgot to turn off my phone. People woke me up more than once, calling to express their horror. At some point in the wee hours, I gave up and looked at Drudge. Arrgh.

Before the election, I spent a great deal of time in prayer. I felt great faith pushing through me. I thought a Romney victory was very likely. When I saw that I was wrong, the thing that disturbed me most was not the Obama victory, but the fact that I had believed he would lose. It’s very unusual for me to have strong faith for a result and then to see something different happen. It affects my relationship with God. I will never doubt him or criticize him, but a failure like this makes me reevaluate the things I do in my walk of faith. Am I praying correctly? Am I interpreting what I feel correctly? Is there something else I should be doing? If I’m wrong about this, what else am I wrong about?

I believe God sometimes sets his seal on things. By that, I mean he decrees that a thing will be done, with complete finality. He doesn’t say “if” or “maybe.” It’s done. Period. I believe he reveals this to some people during prayer. Sometimes the rush of faith that follows a request is so powerful, it’s overwhelming. There’s no way to deny it.

This happened to me back when an ex-girlfriend was filing nutty lawsuits against me. One day I was praying in my truck, and a wave of faith hit me, and I grabbed the console between the seats because I felt I would be pushed over if I didn’t have something to hold. After that, I knew I was going to win, and I was right. On top of that, I asked for very specific things in the last two hearings, and I got them.

I’ve also had it happen with regard to other things I’ve asked for. I asked God to do everything within his power to get my father and sister to accept Christ, be baptized with the Spirit, pray in tongues, be freed from their iniquities, and live in power and blessings, and my faith told me it would be done. God didn’t say they would change; he just said he would do everything possible. They still have free will.

I have found that usually, a strong rush of faith that doesn’t reach the threshold of a sealed answer will still get the job done. But sometimes–I think–a small amount of doubt is enough to sink the ship. I think that’s what happened with the election. I felt great faith, but I also felt something pushing back, and I wasn’t able to get to the point where doubt was completely destroyed. It may sound like I’m giving a lot of importance to my prayers, but my religion tells me the prayer of one man held the sun still in the sky, and I am not willing to limit God.

I think that in the future, I’ll have to be careful not to conclude that something is sealed when it isn’t. I also think that when I’m not sure a thing is sealed, and it’s an important matter, I should continue in prayer until I get resolution. That’s my take for now, anyway.

For a long time, I’ve prayed for God to bless and empower Christians, not America in general. I won’t pray for America’s success because America has been harmed by false prosperity. When things go well, we do what the ancient Jews did. We turn away from God, credit ourselves, and sink into sin. I see that happening around me, so I have prayed that God would bring down ungodly people who are in power and strengthen believers. I believe this will help people turn back to God, where they will work to achieve his ends. They will work as they were intended, with his authority, to increase his kingdom in the earth. I think the Obama disaster is God granting prayers like mine. Like the Hebrews who feasted on quail till they puked, we’re going to feast on our own conceit. God will give us the incompetent, dangerous leaders our egos tell us we need, and they will lead us over cliffs until we repent. That’s my best guess.

God is taking away the things we believe in. He is taking away every stable investment. Stocks are shaky, and Obama’s tax changes will kill them. Gold is volatile. Real estate could plummet again at any time. Even cash is sinking. Thanks to Bernanke’s backdoor socialism, if you sell your risky stocks and put the money in the bank, you still lose value. It looks as though a time is coming when everything we cling to will turn on us, and unless we have a good grip on God, we will sink.

This is why I like the rural-compound-with-no-mortgage idea. Little properties in places like Manhattan and Coral Gables are only valuable in good times. They have no real value. A Park Avenue condo, for example, is a tiny box with no soil, even if it costs ten million dollars. Right now it’s valuable because there are a lot of people who have money. When things go bad, people won’t want little boxes. They’ll want acreage, so they can grow things and defend themselves. Bernanke can wreck the dollar, but he can’t dry up your well or prevent potatoes from growing in your yard.

I keep meeting people who have Ocala connections. Mike was the first. I went to church and mentioned it, and I found out that one of the armorbearers already owns 20 acres there and wants to move, but his wife won’t let him. He has a carry permit, and he’s learning to can! One of my best friends, a former armorbearer, is married to a woman who has family in Marion County. She has wanted to move there for a while now. The other day, I mentioned the idea to a friend who used to be part of my prayer group at Trinity. He goes to New Dawn now. He says he went to high school in Ocala. To me, these things seem like confirmation.

I think God is probably going to protect Christians in the years ahead. I think we will do better than ever, while the country sinks. I think Israel will also prosper. America is abandoning Israel, and God never will, so he will find other ways to bless his nation. If Christians and Israel do well, it will serve to ground persecution. No surprise there. We’ve been told to expect it.

When I say “Christians,” I mean charismatics who really know God. I don’t think he’s going to do much for people who don’t have the Holy Spirit, because they don’t hear his guidance as well. They say 20 million confused people who claim to be evangelicals voted for Obama. I think that should tell you how lost a so-called Christian can be.

If I learn anything new, I’ll let you know.

BLOGWAR!!!

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Them’s Fightin’ Words!

A certain blogress grand diva has impugned my culinary skills by pointing out that my recipe for BBQ beans starts with canned beans and ketchup! Oh, the treachery! She says her beans have to be cooked from scratch!

You know, there are some things you shouldn’t try to cook from scratch. Try making Rice Krispies Treats from scratch some day. Not going to happen. I make my own guitars, amps, bullets, beer…but dang, I’m not going to make my own ketchup or grow beans again. The climate down here kills everything. I couldn’t grow tomatoes if I wanted to.

I respect the whole SHTF movement, but you pretty much have to take over a county if you really want to be self-sufficient. Even in the old days, people bought things like sugar, coffee, and flour.

Anyway, I will defend my beans to the death. They are totally righteous.

Crunchy Meat & Sheets of Yogurt

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Food for Faith

Thought I would write a little about my continuing dehydrator adventure.

Yesterday I dried papaya. I have some trees, but I don’t eat the fruit, because it smells a little bit like dog poop. I wondered if dehydration would change that. I suppose I’m picking the papayas too late, and that’s why they stink, but it seems odd to pick a fruit that isn’t sweet yet.

Anyway, I sliced up a papaya and tossed the chunks in lime juice and simple syrup. After about seven hours in the machine, they were dried up to nothing. I tried one, and sure enough, it doesn’t stink like it did before. So now I have a use for all the papayas that come off the trees.

Funny thing…the product is not like the dried papaya you get in stores. It really shrivels up. I’m wondering if there is a difference between “dried” and “dehydrated.” Guess I’ll have to figure that out.

I have not made jerky yet. I think I’ll get ten boliches (eye round roasts) and dry them. It would probably be best to smoke them, too, but maybe I can fake that with Liquid Smoke and avoid the aggravation.

Mike says he has a yogurt machine. Evidently you can make your own yogurt for a small fraction of the price of store yogurt. How exciting. I guess it’s a big blessing, but I’ve never been a huge yogurt fan. I always identify yogurt with the feminist/greenie/Mac/vegetarian lifestyle.

You can use a dehydrator to make yogurt, and you can even turn the yogurt into dry sheets. Weird.

Yesterday I realized I can make shucky beans in the dehydrator. Man, that would be sweet. I need to find a farmer’s market and load up on green beans. Or I could just chicken out and hit Costco. I don’t know if the beans would brown up the way they do when you dry them on strings.

I just got an idea for food storage: corned beef. I look up a recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated site, and it says corned beef is just cured beef. You stick it in a sealed bag with a salt and seasoning preparation, and you let it sit for 7 days. If that’s all it is, it’s perfect for freezing. Seal everything in a bag, refrigerate for a week, and then freeze. That should work, shouldn’t it?

I Googled flooding and crops again, to see if Perry Stone is right about his vision of upcoming food problems. Things don’t look too good. We have no corn reserves, and the weather is not great. The food situation in China is bad. I guess this year will teach me whether I should pay attention to this man’s visions in the future.

The dehydrator looks like a good investment. I still want to get out of here and put some land around me, but until that happens, I think I’ll be fine with stored eats. And I didn’t lose anything by buying a refurb unit. It looks and works like new.

Mike is jealous. Oh well. Now he has something to put on his shopping list.

Keeping the Doctor Away

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Food Hoard Grows

My Excalibur food dehydrator showed up this weekend. Yesterday I fired it up, dehydrating a bunch of Granny Smith apples. I bought four dozen at Costco, and I did two dozen a week or so ago, and the aggravation was what led me to order the dehydrator.

It took seven hours to dehydrate apple slices prepared with a slicing and peeling machine. I’m sure hand-sliced apples would be different, because the thickness would vary. The machines make slices about 1/4″ thick.

The dehydrator expels wet air from the front, and water will condense on anything close to the machine. I guess there is no way to avoid that.

I didn’t dip the apples in lemon juice or sodium bisulfite or anything else that might inhibit oxidation. I wanted them to taste like the apples my grandmother used to dry. Apples that are heavily treated don’t have the same flavor. I figured my apples would come out brown, like the ones I dried in the SUV and oven, but they came out very white.

Here’s the surprising thing: the flavor is amazing. It’s almost like a green apple Jolly Rancher candy. Very strong, and extremely sweet. I can’t figure that out. I don’t know if they’ll make good dried-apple pies, but they’re great to eat as a snack.

The dehydrator has plastic shelves that slide out, and each shelf has a sheet of plastic mesh on it to hold food. You can put the trays in the dishwasher (top rack), but the mesh has to be washed by hand. This is a major pain. But if Perry Stone is right, and food gets expensive, the effort of keeping my dehydrator clean will seem trivial.

I look forward to drying some bananas in it. My trees are producing well.

This dehydrator is a refurb, but I can’t see anything wrong with it. I think I made a good choice. You can get a cheaper Chinese knockoff, but I wanted a warranty and decent customer service.

Proverbs 31 Man

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Son of Man, Can These Dry Bananas Live?

I have given up. I hate blowing money on things I should be able to make, but drying apples in my dad’s SUV is too slow, so I bought a dehydrator. I got a refurb Excalibur. It ought to do the job.

I put a dozen sliced apples in the SUV on a sliding door screen and gave it two days, but the apples just were not dry enough. Maybe it would work in the summer, but I can’t keep fooling around, trying to get it right.

I was looking at dehydrators online, and I felt stupid, but then I thought about all the stuff I throw out. Most of my peppers and bananas end up rotting because I don’t have any place to put them. I never eat my papayas, because they smell funny, but if they were dried, I think that problem would go away.

Bananas are fantastic. They keep you regular and they taste good. But what do you do when twenty pounds of them get ripe over three days?

Ooooh…pineapples. I wonder how hard those are to grow. Dried pineapples are great, and I have a special culinary use for the fresh stuff.

I guess now I can look into jerky. I don’t even know what cuts to use. It would sure beat paying tons of money for the protein bars I eat when I work at church.